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By Amy Jackson

Several weeks ago, there was a quote circulating online about making the most of your time during lockdown. According to said quote, if you don’t use this time wisely by learning a new skill or launching a ‘side hustle’, you’re lazy. I saw multiple people repost this to their Instagram story, and while the quote supposedly aims to be motivational, it served as my confirmation that we as a species can never just switch off once and for all. 

Free time is not something the majority of us are used to. In normal circumstances, we spend most of our time in the office, then the commute. By the time we get home, make dinner, do the dishes, get a shower – there’s barely time to prep tomorrow’s lunch never mind take up a new hobby. That’s why as soon as many of us realised we were going into lockdown, which meant working from home, being furloughed, or, sadly, losing our jobs altogether, a lot of people didn’t know how to spend all this newfound freedom. 

Working from home myself, I don’t have as much free time as a lot of other people. This didn’t, however, stop these ‘motivation quotes’ from bringing me a slight sense of panic and guilt. What if I’m wasting my time in lockdown rewatching the Sopranos for the 16th time, maybe I should be using this time for something good? I’d had similar conversations with friends in the same position as me who were worrying about wasting lockdown. Plans to learn a new language, write a short story or redecorate the house were dominating Zoom chats. By week six, no one had picked up a paintbrush, downloaded Duolingo or written a chapter, and the guilt was creeping in. 

When you put that sentence into perspective – wasting lockdown – you realise how ridiculous this concept is. We’re in the midst of a nationwide lockdown due to a global Pandemic, something we’ve never experienced and which is causing high anxiety and stress for a lot of people. By associating taking time for ourselves with laziness or lack of discipline, we’re just adding even more pressure onto an already stressful situation. 

Of course, not everyone is dealing with lockdown in the same way, and for many people, learning new skills and focusing on new projects can be a welcome distraction and a productive way to kill time. The only issue lies with comparing yourself to others, which is a common social media phenomenon. You don’t know the specific circumstances that have allowed that person you follow on Instagram to have such a ‘productive’ lockdown, and unless you know them personally, you never will know for sure.

At the end of the day, whether you prefer Netflix and Chill over Rise and Grind, you’re free to spend your free time however you wish! And don’t let a passive aggressive Insta quote change your mind.